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                                  of the 

                     World Summit for Social Development 

                          U.S. Department of State 

                                March 1995 


The World Summit for Social Development took place in Copenhagen from 

March 6-12.  The Summit focused on three issues: 

--  Reduction and elimination of widespread poverty; 

--  Productive employment and the reduction of unemployment; 

--  Social integration, centering on ways to enable different groups in 

society to live together in productive and cooperative diversity. 

The United States stated from early in the process that we wanted the 

Summit to discuss specific action items.  We are pleased that this is 

what happened. 

The central commitment of the Summit is for all countries to reduce 

"overall poverty in the shortest possible time" and "eradicate absolute 

poverty by a target date to be specified by each country."  The Summit 

goes from this lofty goal to specific, implementable commitments: 

--  all countries should ensure universal basic education and access to 

basic health care as the fundamentals to empower people and end absolute 


--  all activities of multilateral development banks, including 

structural adjustment programs, must "focus on meeting basic needs for 

all and eradicating absolute poverty"; 

--  debt burdens, including multilateral debt, should be examined with 

the goal of assisting low-income countries to resume growth; and 

--  a breakthrough on the UNICEF "20/20" proposal that strongly 

encourages donors and developing countries to focus on basic social 


Second, the Summit paves the way for the Fourth World Conference on 

Women by its strong commitment to achieve "equality and equity between 

women and men." 

Third, the Summit established a framework that could improve the quality 

of life of workers around the world.  For the first time, Heads of State 

and Government joined in a specific commitment to "safeguard the basic 

rights and interests of workers," including "the prohibition on forced 

and child labor" and the right to "freedom of association, the right to 

organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of non-discrimination." 


Fourth, leaders attending the Summit agreed to unprecedented language on 

the need to equalize "opportunities so that people with disabilities can 

contribute to and benefit from full participation in society."  The 

United States led the world in advocating this central point, and 

Americans representing the disability community served on the US 

delegation both to the final Preparatory meeting for the Social Summit 

and to the Summit itself. 

Fifth, the Social Summit reaffirmed the key commitments made at recent 

UN conferences on the environment at Rio in 1992, on human rights at 

Vienna in 1993, and on population at Cairo in 1994.  In doing so, the 

Summit document strongly endorsed the central role of sustainable 

development, stating: 

We are deeply convinced that economic development, social development 

and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing 

components of sustainable development, which is the framework for our 

efforts to achieve a higher quality of life for all people.  Equitable 

social development that recognizes empowering of the poor to utilize 

environmental resources sustainably is a necessary foundation for 

sustainable development.  We also recognize that broad-based and 

sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development is 

necessary to sustain social development and social justice. 

(Copenhagen Declaration, paragraph 6) 

Finally, the United States announced two major initiatives at the Social 


     The First Lady announced a $100 million Girls' and Women's 

Education Initiative, to be implemented by USAID; 

     The Vice President announced a New Partnerships Initiative, under 

which 40% of USAID's development assistance will be channeled through 

non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
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